The Mission: Impossible Films Ranked By Tom Cruise’s Running Prowess

On your marks. Get set. Cruise!

We live in a beautiful word. Natural wonders are everywhere on planet Earth, like sunsets in Santorini, a herd of elephants crossing the Serengeti or witnessing Tom Cruise running in a movie.

Cruise is the best runner in Hollywood. Sure, there are actors who have tried to bolt away with the crown – Keanu Reeves has the best claim to the throne...

Tom Hanks gets an honourable mention...

But Cruise is king.

Why is Cruise in motion so appealing? The answer is simple: life can be chaotic, but it’s reassuring to know that Cruise is going break into a sprint in a movie. Often, Cruise is playing an action hero stripped of everything whose last chance at saving the day is to push his body to the limit in ways that would make Usain Bolt Google: what are my other career options?

(Image: Getty Images)

I’m no scientist, but it feels like the laws of physics are in perfect harmony when Cruise’s arms and legs are working in unison, the height to speed ratio is perfect, and his hair cuts through the air with the aerodynamics of a space shuttle.

Running is also vital to Cruise’s career. According to research on the relationship between Cruise running and box office figures, Cruise-running movies have an average worldwide gross of $316 million compared with his non-running films that average $141 million.

Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds

A lot of Cruise’s box office leg power comes from the Mission: Impossible franchise. The sixth film in the franchise is on the way, Mission: Impossible Fallout, which looks to push Cruise’s limbs to limits that would be able to generate power for a small town. And a lot the best running Cruise has done throughout his career has been done in these movies.

So, to celebrate Cruise setting the pavement ablaze, once again, we’ve ranked the Mission: Impossible movies based on Cruise hotfooting it as agent Ethan Hunt.

#5: Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)

Although this is the film where Cruise’s hair is at its most magnificent...

there’s only a lethargic jog up at staircase at the 20 minute mark and we don’t get a vintage Cruise print until 85 minutes into the movie! Talk about delayed gratification. Mission: Impossible 2 is more interested in being a tourism commercial for Sydney than letting Cruise’s hair flap in the wind while making a dash; it does get wild on the back of a motorcycle though.

Total Cruise run time: 45 seconds.

Cruise-o-meter: 1 out of 5 running Cruises

#4: Mission: Impossible (1996)

Jon Voight spends more time running in Mission: Impossible than Cruise. In the first film in the franchise, Cruise spends more time sitting down than in a rush. There’s even a thrilling montage where Cruise spends all night sending emails. Look, Mission: Impossible as a whole is spectacular and many of the action sequences, including the famous vault sequence, and would influence action movies for the decade that followed. Brian De Palma (Scarface, Carrie) directed the hell out this movie, which is based on an old TV show and it got more than it deserved. In Mission: Impossible, Cruise is an untapped running resource.

Total Cruise run time: 45 seconds.

Cruise-o-meter: 2 out of 5 running Cruises.

#3: Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (2015)

The franchise is now more self-aware than ever and Cruise is introduced while running, also known as a run-troduction. But even after a flashy introduction where Cruise is hanging off the side of an aeroplane while it takes off – a stunt he did himself – the running becomes spotty despite several awesome chase sequences via car and motorcycle, and a slick mission set during an opera performance. Cruise gets outpaced a little in Rogue Nation by a rival runner, Rebecca Ferguson, who carries most of the film as a mysterious assassin/secret agent (she’s all over the moral compass). Rogue Nation is bookended by a bolting Cruise but he’s on wheels for most of this one.

Total Cruise run time: 112 seconds.

Cruise-o-meter: 3 out of 5 running Cruises.

#2: Mission: Impossible 3 (2006)

Director JJ Abrams wastes no time allowing Cruise to hit the pavement with only a 12 minute wait before he’s bolting toward his first mission. Mission: Impossible 3 is the movie where Hunt tries to settle down but there’s no keeping this man still. The street can’t even hold Cruise’s running skills and he takes to sprinting up walls. There’s a sequence where Cruise sprints through Shanghai and across the city’s rooftops that goes for nearly 2 minutes straight. Abrams and Cruise work together beautifully and this film is vital to establishing the running tone for the rest of the franchise.

Total Cruise run time: 279 seconds.

Cruise-o-meter: 4 out of 5 running Cruises.

#1: Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol (2011)

Cruise’s running goes to new heights when he sprints across the side of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. That’s the real Cruise, doing all his own stunts and driving insurance premiums through the roof. But it’s not just atmosphere scraping buildings he’s using as a running surface in this movie, Cruise also manages to keep pace with a sandstorm during an action sequence of non-stop running. Ghost Protocol is a marathon for Cruise and a tribute to the greatest living actor in motion.

Total Cruise run time: 299 seconds.

Cruise-o-meter: 5 out of 5 running Cruises.